By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 14th February 2019
Forget the Europa League tussle with mismatched Malmo, the visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup offers Chelsea the ideal opportunity to restore pride after last weekend’s Etihad reverse.
The Blues are 21/20 favourites in the match betting for United’s visit to Stamford Bridge and there are strong foundations for predicting they’ll restore a spring to their domestic step with victory in a repeat of last season’s final – a match they also won.
Stamford Bridge is a fortress
The Reds may have won their last six road games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Chelsea have lost just one home game since the tenure of Italian tactician Maurizio Sarri began and we’ve already told you about their defensive strength in their own backyard.
Nor has the Bridge been a happy waystation for United in recent years, with no win in nine visits dating back to October 2012, when Sir Alex Ferguson was at the reigns.
To say current manager Solskjaer has yet to prove he possesses a modicum of the Scot’s supreme acumen is putting it mildly.
United are demoralised and depleted
The Old Trafford outfit roll up in west London off the back of a bubble-bursting first defeat under the Norwegian interim boss.
Given their resurrection under Solskjaer’s tuition has largely been trumpeted for its loosening of the attacking reins, rejuvenation of team spirit and morale in the camp, their loss to Paris Saint-Germain has the potential to undermine confidence in his tactical leadership.
Potentially being without Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, who left the field injured against Les Parisiens, could put this aspect of his approach under the microscope.
Both have played big parts in injecting life into the Reds’ previously limp and lumpen forward line and being without both could necessitate bringing Marcus Rashford out wide and Romelu Lukaku back into the middle – a throwback to a more Jose Mourinho approach.
The Red Devils are yet to win after conceding first under Solskjaer
Also unproven under the Molde loanee is United’s ability to come back from behind.
The sample size of two games, is admittedly small, yet if it wasn’t for a last-five-minutes capitulation from a poor Burnley outfit in the sides’ 2-2 Old Trafford draw, they have nothing to show for either game.
With Chelsea closer in terms of quality to PSG than Sean Dyche’s honest-but-limited legion it’s hard to imagine the Blues, who shut out Man City at Stamford Bridge, allowing them back into the game.
Sarri’s side have scored first in nine of their 13 home league games this term and they’re 7/10 to bag the opener against United.